A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Carolina (Carolyn) Wendroff-Smith on November 17 at the Gainesville Unity Church - though all would say she lived her entire life as a celebration. A most beloved mother and wife, Carolyn lived life until she passed at 68. She owned several businesses, raised two sons, fell in love several times, married twice and danced whenever she had the chance.
In 1968, at 24, she immigrated to New Jersey from Lima, Peru, working at a factory. Ever shrewd, the following month she negotiated a $5 a week raise from the factory across the street. She left that job to marry her first husband Marvin in 1972 in Valencia, Spain and hitchhiked across Europe, Asia and Africa for one year before settling in Key Largo then Miami then Dunnellon and finally Gainesville to raise her family. Her greatest joy was raising her two boys Darren and BJ who eventually became Army Veterans, college graduates, a Peace Corps Volunteer and business owners.
"Our mother was our inspiration, without a doubt," says eldest son Darren. "Whenever I faced a challenge, I thought of my mom and her indomitable spirit. She was the most positive, beautiful and wise person I've ever known. My brother and I are so, so blessed she was our mom."
At 58, all 5'1, 115 pounds of her became a corrections officer for the state, and she worked at the Gainesville Work Camp often saying she enjoyed working with the inmates because they, at least, listened. She also started a cleaning business, managed three homes she owned, bought and sold used clothing for her thrift shop, and painted the faces of young children each year at the Gainesville Spring and Fall Arts Festivals. She loved playing volleyball with friends on Sunday evening, often directing traffic on the court, or spending sunny afternoons in nature with her second husband Tom. Her schedule was always packed.
"I never once heard my mom say she was bored," says youngest son Brian. "She was always on the run, visiting a new festival, dancing Zumba, cooking, playing volleyball or going to a party with friends. Sometimes in the same day."
Beloved by all who knew her vibrant personality, Carolyn is survived by her two loving sons Darren and BJ (and his wife Kerry), her husband Tom, her sisters Julia and Gloria (and her children Maria, Toni and Lenny), and her grandson Rowan Jacob. Her spirit and infectious smile were singular and she will be greatly missed.
The Celebration of Life will be held at the Unity Church at 8801 NW 39th Avenue on November 17th at 1pm. Please contact Darren Wendroff at [email protected]
for more info. She asked that friends and family stop by and re-tell the stories she can no longer tell - and, if so inclined, dance.
Published by Gainesville Sun from Aug. 26 to Aug. 27, 2012.